As the world’s best athletes settle into Rio de Janeiro for almost three weeks of competition, the world’s best marketers are trying to leverage their brands to gain traffic to their website from new clients.

While most Olympic viewers will be watching at home, we’re living in a mobile world and those tuning in will be using their second screens to stay up to date on social media. Digital marketers will be in a constant battle to attract the attention of those engaged in the games.

Digital marketing during the span of the Olympic Games will face tremendous competition, just like the athletes in Rio. However, based on the advertising restrictions set forth by the IOC, brands are forbidden to post, re-post, or use any official hashtags when not an official sponsor.

It’s called the Rule 40. You can’t endorse athletes or run any ad campaigns that use the IOC’s copyrighted language, even the word “Olympics.”

According to Instagram and Facebook, over 50% of those planning on watching the events will be looking for stories and content on their mobile devices. The platform urges marketers to get in on the action and attract the eyes of some of the 250 million Instagram users.

They suggest sharing content related to the games that aligns your brand and services to appeal to your end user. While #Rio2016 will be off-limits, hashtags like #Rio or a hashtag for the sport that’s currently being played are ways you can advertise to your audience.

Go for the gold, and leverage your brand to come out on top.

How to Align Your Digital Strategy for the Olympic Games

While much of the news surrounding the events deal with public concerns based on the Zika virus and the poor quality of drinking water and living conditions, the Olympic Games has some of the largest followings and will be a wasted opportunity without the right marketing campaign.

With the restrictions to online advertising in the digital age for major “unofficial sponsors,” the small and mid-sized businesses are presented with a unique opportunity to gain additional business that the large companies would normally receive.

You can’t just stick to piggybacking the event, but engage with it. We’re all in the spirit. Meet your customers where they are talking about the event.

In the NBC Sports app and authenticated online streaming websites from NBC, digital ad sales are up 33% compared to the 2012 London games. As a marketer, there is still time to book business with NBC Sports, and online has the biggest opportunities, according to Fierce Cable.

olympic games digital

Stick With Google AdWords

Stay on top of the day’s activities. The winners of the paid ad campaigns during the 17-day event will have ads ready to roll out based on the biggest news stories from the day. Google is bringing its best to the stage of the Olympic Games this year.

On the site, users will be presented to all the information right from their database. You can see event schedules, medal counts, information based on certain athletes, and results per competition.

Say you’re an e-commerce website that can gain additional customers during these 17 days. Prepare your product pages, or create a section on your site with Olympic-related items. This works especially for athletic equipment and apparel that can maximize exposure for country-themed and Olympic inspired gear.


Ad campaigns will look for micro-moments that can be exploited. These micro-moments will target consumers based on mobile searches for information, research, and products. Monitor the proceedings of the games, and prep for your next ad campaign centered on the biggest buzz. Bid on variations of searches to attract customers.

For the small to mid-sized businesses, attract your customers with promotions, contests, or a new launch with a patriotic feel. Consider renaming one of your products to attract Olympic viewers, and make sure to exploit the value of social media.

Use polls on Twitter, ask questions on Facebook, get employees to share pictures of company events related to sport, and increase brand awareness.

Steer Away from Solely Sports Related Content

Olympic audiences are shifting online, and if you’re trying to cash in on the three weeks of sports, you must shift your focus online. However, this doesn’t mean that you should produce and distribute strictly content that is related to sports and targeting at sports fans.

The Olympics are filled with rich cultures. As audiences become enthralled with an athlete’s performance or even with the setting of the host country—in this case, Rio—they will look at music, heritage, language, and other cultural distinctions that make a country unique.

Depending on your products or services, this gives your brand the ability to reach targeted consumers interested in a certain cultural phenomenon. About 33% of viewers who say they’ll tune into the Olympic Games are not regular sports watchers, and your sports-related content won’t appeal to them.

Use The Olympics to Your Advantage

The event that ignites the world can spark your business when advertising to the right online audience. Study the site analytics and search trends to adjust ad spend for the best performance. Your AdWords specialist should turn off ads once the news cycle shifts to another athlete or event.

On the heels of NBC Universal announcing they have recorded over $1.2 billion in ad sale for the Rio Olympics, the programming hours and the fact the games are being held in a friendly time zone for US viewers will peak their interest.

They want to watch on-demand, cutting out the commercials from top sponsors. This leaves a great advantage for marketers looking to advertise online and reach new clients. No matter what industry you’re selling products or services, an Olympic viewer can benefit from your company.